Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Crown of Monomakh

The Crown of Monomakh, also called the Golden Cap, is one of the symbols of Russian autocracy, and is the oldest of the crowns currently exhibited at the Kremlin Armoury. It was the crown of all Muscovite Grand Princes and Tsars from Dmitri Donskoi to Peter the Great.

It is an early 14th-century gold filigree skullcap composed of eight sectors, elaborately ornamented with a scrolled overlay with sable trimming, decorated with precious stones and pearls. At some point in the 15th or 16th century the crown was surmounted by a simple gold cross with pearls at each of the extremities

After Russia overcame the period of feudal fragmentation and Ivan III of Moscow and Vladimir asserted his position as successor to the Roman emperors, there arose a legend that the cap had been presented by the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachus to his grandson Vladimir Monomakh, the founder of the city of Vladimir and patrilineal ancestor of Ivan III. The legend served as one of the grounds for the "Moscow as the Third Rome" political theory. Accordingly, the crown became known as "Monomakh's Cap", the term first recorded in a Russian document from 1518.

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